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Boise State University

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Photo credit: John Kelly of Boise State Photographic Services

Boise is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, and consistently ranks in Forbes' top 10 cities for careers and families. Boise State University serves about 21,000 undergraduates and 3,000 graduate students. Engineering enrollment has grown by 75%, to 2,847 students, over the past five years. Key partners include Micron Technology, a top 5 semiconductor company with headquarters in Boise, NASA, and Idaho National Laboratories.

Recently, Boise became home to the business incubator, Trailhead, as well as annual speaking events including TedXIgnite Boise, and the Ethos Project. New initiatives at Boise State University include the Venture College, which has launched 17 revenue generating businesses, the College of Innovation and Design, a MakerLab, and the New Product Development Lab, and a $25M Center for Materials Research.

Student Entrepreneurship

Business launched through the Venture College include:

  • Vivid Roots sells apparel and water bottles. A portion of each sale provides potable water to people in need.
  • txtENGAGE provide customer relationship and marketing platforms.
  • Gratis Huminatarian Aid Network distributes medical supplies to remote regions in Eastern and Central Africa.
  • Adventure Data provides real-time avalanche data monitoring for outdoor safety.
  • Whitney Hansen provides finanial consulting with a focus on student debt.

The Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge awards over $100,000 annually in seed funding to student entrepreneurs. Previous winners include:

  • MotoTrax designs, manufactures, and sells "snowbikes", a dirtbike/snowmobile crossover
  • TimeStage provides staining and imaging technology for microscopes that improves diagnosis and research related to infectious diseases.
  • TriBiz provides a targeted advertising service restaurants.
  • Vivid Roots sells apparel and water bottles. A portion of each sale provides potable water to people in need.

Faculty Entrepreneurship

  • Dr. Peter Mullner specializes in shape-memory alloys. He recently launched a startup to commercialize solid-state electronic devices based on these materials.
  • Dr. Yanliang Zhang completed successful prototypes of a thermoelectric device designed to replace alternators in cars. This work, funded by a Department of Energy grant, should improve fuel economy by 10-15%. Hyundai (or Honda?) is currently working to commercialize this device.
  • Dr. Kevin Learned co-founded Idaho's first commercial software company and its first angel investment group.
  • Ed Zimmer served as the CEO of ECCO Group as it grew from 20 employees to over 500 employees with plants in Boise, England, and Australia.

University-Industry Collaboration

  • The Scalable Nanomanufacturing Grant, led by Dr. Will Hughes, partners Boise State University with Harvard University and Micron Technologies. This project investigates applications for DNA nanotechnology in the semiconductor industry.
  • A year-long Senior Design course partners senior engineering students with an industry sponsor to gain practical industry experience. Partners include: Micron Technology, Clearwater Analytics, Hewlett Packard, Cradlepoint Technology, and Idaho Power, among others.
  • The Boise State Computer Science Department has moved into a new building downtown, which they will share with local tech company Clearwater Analytics, among others.  This move positions Boise State Computer Science students and faculty within close proximity to the growing number of tech startups located in downtown Boise.

University Technology Transfer Office

The Office of Technology Transfer supports research activities and manages industry relations and intellectual property commercialization for the university.  The office is responsible for the assessment, protection, development and marketing of new inventions for commercial use and facilitates the internal and external relationships that contribute to the process.  The office also supports the advancement of innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development programs and initiatives on campus.

Local and Regional Development

  • Employment: BSU employs more than 3,000 Idaho residents directly and another 2,000 indirectly. Wages and salary, in total, are $113M
  • Spending: students spend $195M annually on living expenses in Idaho
    • Out-of-state students spend another $17M annually
    • BSU purchasing, construction, and employee spending is ~$325M annually
  • Service: 2,000 students across 30 departments contribute ~52,000 hours to 80 community organizations through the service-learning program
  • Alumni: 70% of Boise State alumni remain in Idaho, working and paying taxes
    • Idaho residents with at least a bachelor's degree earn double the wages of those without one. Alumni have an unemployment rate that is about 1/3 of that of the workforce with only a high school diploma
    • Alumni have an estimated $903M economic impact on the state annually
  • Funding: BSU receives 22% of its revenue from state appropriations, and attracts an additional $250M of revenue from private sources
  • Apparel: apparel generates ~$11M in sales for retailers
  • Research: BSU attracts more than $37M in research awards, 80% of which are from federal soruces

Additional information is in the Boise State Economic Impact Report

Related Links


Boise State University Student Priorities

University Innovation Fellows

Spring 2016:

Ann Delaney

Kelly Schutt

Rebecka Seward

Fall 2016:

Donovan Kay

Sienna George

Alexander Schloss

Spring 2017:

Carson Addison 
Zachary Andreason
Camille Eddy
Thomas Lippman